• James Parry

Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau coming to Hudson Village Theatre May 9-13


Tripping the light fantastic with PET when she was a 23 year-old student, Brooke Johnson certainly didn’t tell him that she was wearing a borrowed dress and borrowed shoes that were two sizes too big for her.

Brooke Johnson, soon coming to Hudson Village Theatre in a critically-acclaimed one woman show titled Trudeau Stories, will never forget the time she first danced with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It was back in 1985.

She was in her second year of the acting program at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal and had just been elected to the school's Board of Governors. And he, of course, was Canada's former Prime Minister who had left the government some 18 months before and was now working as Senior Counsel at the Montreal law firm, Heenan Blaikie. The occasion? In her own words, 'a fancy-schmancy' gala fundraiser for the school's 25th anniversary.

But wait, there's more. For as Johnson, now living in Toronto, told The Journal in an exclusive interview this week, “I was a 23 year-old student wearing a borrowed dress and borrowed shoes that were two sizes too big and feeling terribly awkward. And he was a 65-year-old Canadian statesman, an icon, citizen of the world, scholar, intellectual, and a visionary who had recently stepped down as our longest serving prime minister and who was a fantastic dancer. And here was I just trying to understand my place in my own body, let alone the world while dancing in shoes that just didn't fit.”

And there's more. Added Johnson, “I was absolutely in awe of him on the one hand and, on the other, I was somehow instantly comfortable with him. We clicked right off the bat which was okay, because I didn’t want to come across as a potential conquest. I was bold enough to want to be seen as myself, and clearly my sense of humour showed through, as did his, and a connection was made that began our long-lasting platonic friendship.”

A most unlikely friendship revealed in greater depth by Johnson in inimitable style on stage in Trudeau Stories through personal reminiscences and vivid portrayals in her critically-acclaimed show that to date has seen over 250 performances from Whitehorse, Yukon to St. John's, Newfoundland and a memorable five-week run at The Centaur Theatre in Montreal back in 2010.


So how come Hudson Village Theatre?

“I had tried a few years back to have something up at the HVT as I was booked in Huntingdon, not too far away, and hoped to play Hudson on the same tour,” said Johnson. “But it didn’t work out. Maybe too short notice. I have heard from some of my theatre chums who have played in Hudson that it is an absolutely beautiful spot, charming and very friendly. And once I heard it was in an old train station, my heart was set.”

Added Johnson, “Many people throughout the country continue to be enormously intrigued, or still stymied, or affected, or enraptured by the memory of Pierre Trudeau the politician. And though my offering is simply from my perspective, it is about the fellow himself with whom I had a chance to spend some precious time. No politics. And I'd love to tell you the rest of the story...”

But for that you will have to reserve a seat for Trudeau Stories running Wednesday, May 9 through Sunday, May 13 with matinee performances at Hudson Village Theatre, 28 Wharf Road, by calling (450) 458-5361 or online at www.villagetheatre.ca.

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